Have you had your sleep interrupted because of a sudden jolt of excruciating pain in your leg? Does lifting objects cause your back to hurt so much? Are you unable to carry out your usual day-to-day tasks because it feels like every muscle in your body is perpetually aching?
Muscle cramps are a common problem that can strike anyone. They occur because one or more of your muscles suddenly and involuntary contract, causing severe pain. They are caused by different things and are usually treated by pain relievers and some homemade remedies.
Possible causes of muscle cramps
There are several different things that can possibly cause muscle cramps. Below are some of the most common ones:
Long periods of exercise
If you exercise for hours every single day, you are subjecting your muscles to too much strain, increasing the risk of muscle cramps. To avoid that, you should not overexert yourself. You have to understand that your body needs to rest, recharge, and repair to perform efficiently for a long time.
Heavy physical labor
If your job requires you to carry large and heavy boxes and other objects, your risk of muscle cramps is higher than others. You are likely to experience frequent pain in your arms, shoulders, and back.
Abnormal nerve activity
Sometimes, while sleeping, your nervous system may experience some abnormal activity that can trigger muscle cramps.
Disrupted blood flow
If blood flow to a certain body part is blocked or interrupted, muscle cramps may occur. For example, if you sit in an uncomfortable position for a long time, your legs, calves, or hamstrings are prevented from getting enough blood, resulting in cramps.
Water is essential in replenishing your body. Before, during, and after a workout, you should drink water to make up for the fluids lost. If you fail to do so, your risk of muscle cramps and soreness increases.
People with liver disease have livers that are unable to effectively flush all toxins out of the body, so they are prone to suffering from muscle cramps and spasms.
Not having enough magnesium, calcium, potassium, and other essential minerals in the body can lead to muscle cramps, so it is vital to eat a healthy and balanced diet.
Risk factors of muscle cramps
Anyone can be a victim of muscle cramps, but there are certain people that are more likely to suffer from it. The following are the factors that can raise your odds of getting muscle cramps:
As you age, your muscles naturally lose mass, so they can get easily overstressed and become more susceptible to muscle cramps.
Pregnant women are prone to leg cramps, back cramps, and others due to fatigue, reduced blood circulation in the legs because of the pressure of the baby in the womb, or the pressure of the uterus on the nerves.
Certain health problems
Some medical conditions, such as thyroid disorders, nerve disorders, liver disease, and diabetes, can increase your risk of muscle cramps.
Treatment option for muscle cramps
Many cases of muscle cramps can be treated by techniques that you can easily do yourself at home. The following are good examples you can try:
Before and after exercising, do some stretching routines to reduce the stress and tension in your muscles.
You can massage a cramped muscle to relieve the pain. For example, if you have a leg cramp, you can sit on the floor and stretch your legs out and gently rub the affected area.
Applying heat or cold
Cramped muscles in smaller areas, such as the legs, can be relaxed by applying a heating pad or a warm towel. If they cover a larger area, such as your entire back, for example, you can take a hot shower or warm bath to ease the pain. In certain situations, cramped muscles can also be treated with ice too.
If your muscle cramps do not go away after trying these home remedies, you should go consult a doctor right away. Oftentimes, doctors recommend over-the-counter drugs or prescribe certain meds to deal with these kinds of cramps. Common medications used for the treatment of muscle cramps are:
Muscle cramps prevention tips
The pain and discomfort brought about by muscle cramps can significantly lower your quality of life. Therefore, you have to know how you can prevent them to be able to enjoy your life to the fullest.
Know your limits
You should not make yourself exercise for extended periods of time. If you are used to a sedentary lifestyle and want to be more physically active, you have to understand that you cannot just start going to the gym for two hours a day and feel okay after. Subjecting yourself to that much physicality all of a sudden can cause not only muscle cramps but also other serious complications. It is okay to start slow to allow your body to adjust to the increase in your physical activity, and gradually raise the intensity of your workouts over time.
Drink lots of water
When exercising, you should keep yourself hydrated all throughout. Otherwise, you will get too thirsty and will begin experiencing dehydration symptoms, such as headaches, vomiting, nausea, dizziness, an increase in heart rate and breathing, and fainting. You will also have an increased risk of muscle cramps and other bodily pains and aches.
Nutrition plays an important role in your muscle health. If you are always experiencing muscle cramps, your body is possibly telling you that you do not have enough essential vitamins and minerals for it to be able to function properly. For optimal muscle strength, you should eat foods that are rich in vitamin B12, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin D, protein, iron, selenium, omega-3 fatty acids, biotin, and others. Some good examples are eggs, lean beef, tuna, chicken, cottage cheese, whole grains, shrimp, and soybeans.